My short story “Mary Sue Wants To Die Forever” is now featured in Fresh Blood (Vampire Writers Support Group Anthology, Volume 1)
The Real World of Harry Potter
©July 15, 2011 by Daven Anderson
The Harry Potter saga has been a significant source of inspiration for my novel, Vampire Syndrome. No, my muse is not Severus Snape. Or Remus Lupin, for that matter. What has inspired me the most is the seamless interweaving of the magical and muggle worlds, and the power with which it bonds to all Harry Potter readers. Would any muggle pass up the opportunity to take one of London’s many Harry Potter Tours? The only downside: you might have to keep an eye on your kids to make sure they don’t smash luggage trolleys into the Platform 9¾ wall or try sneaking into the actual building used for the exterior shots of Gringotts Bank.
The power of blending fantasy and reality worlds is not limited to Harry Potter. Just ask anyone who’s been to Forks, Washington, recently. Before Twilight, you couldn’t have dragged the average young girl there, kicking and screaming. Now, if you’re a parent, your adolescent daughter(s) will drag you there, kicking and screaming. Good thing I have a pulse and my skin doesn’t sparkle, or the ever-present mob of middle-school-age girls prowling the streets of Forks would have ripped me to pieces in piranha-like fashion.
Many of us living in the Denver area write stories based in Colorado. We seem to be following a variation of an ancient rule, in this case expressed as “write where you know.” Why not? It worked for Joanne Rowling. Who among us wouldn’t smile standing next to the “real” Platform 9¾, walking into the Leaky Cauldron, or even driving your rental (excuse me, hire) car over the bridge where the Knight Bus squeezed past the double-decker buses?
Joanne Rowling made the most of her location. So should all other authors. Don’t all authors harbor the dream that people would tour our novel’s locations with the enthusiasm of those currently visiting London or Forks?
My vampire novel is set right here in Colorado. An odd choice? Ten years ago, Forks, Washington, would have seemed just as bizarre. Like Rowling, I make the most of my setting. Does anywhere else in the world have a better candidate for a “vampire” statue than Denver International Airport’s menacing, mysterious Blue Mustang? Conventional wisdom says never judge a book by its cover, but we all know people do anyway! It was a bit more complex to explain why vampires would choose to live in a location with over 300 days of sunshine a year, but I managed. This required some new interpretation of classic folklore. Again, why not? Stephenie Meyer chose cloud-covered, rainy Forks so her vampires could keep their sparkling skins hidden from direct sunlight.
For millions of readers, Rowling made actual locations magical and her fantasy world real. Others’ stories should do the same.
For my 50th post, some pictures from my road trip to Forks, Washington 😀
July First. I was on my way to visit a Timber Museum in a small logging town located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Fifty-six miles from my destination, I had a sudden, inexplicable craving for mushroom ravioli. As luck would have it, there was a nice little Italian restaurant right there off Highway 101 in downtown Port Angeles.
By sheer random coincidence 😈 , I parked in front of the Bella Italia restaurant at 4:02 p.m., two minutes after it opened for the evening. My party of one was their second table they seated that evening. A family of five had managed to arrive before me.
I was thrilled to overhear the family’s three adolescent daughters all ordering the mushroom ravioli. I figured, “Wow, this place must have really good mushroom ravioli.” When the waitress bought my Ensalada Mista and iced tea, she said “Yes, our mushroom ravioli is excellent.” I took a brief walk outside and there was a poster board in the front window explaining about how some author had dined there a few years ago. The author liked the mushroom ravioli so much, she wrote it into a scene in her book where two young lovers go on their first date. After reading this, I was really impressed. With an unpaid endorsement like that, I figured this place must have the best mushroom ravioli in the world.
At last, the plate arrived, and I feasted on the wonderful dish. I can’t really say if it’s the best mushroom ravioli in the world, but it was without doubt the best I’ve ever had. The mushroom flavor was strong without being overwhelming (a hard balance to pull off!), the pasta had a subtle wheat flavor without being “wheat pasta”, and the besclamella (Italian white sauce) perfectly complimented these two flavors, without overpowering them.
I was so impressed with the main course, I ordered a mixed berry crisp dessert, purely on impulse. Made from local berries, right at the peak of Washington’s berry season. The ice cream was a bit plain vanilla, but the berries were outstanding.
It’s a treat when you travel from afar, and find something that was worth the hype. Really, we all know why so many people go to the Bella Italia and order mushroom ravioli, but I’m glad to report they won’t be disappointed.
Right now, I’m kicking myself for not having taken pictures inside the Forks Timber Museum. I’ll go so far as to say the Timber Museum is the first place you should visit if you happen to be in Forks. 😀
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